VAR debate should only be open to those who show Ange Postecoglou's maturity in a sea of myopic moaning - Stuart Rayner
VAR and its operators need help. Instead, football's leading figures piled on until, after seeing his team beaten in the craziest, most-Stockley Park-stained game of the lot, Ange Postecoglou spoke like a grown-up.
Little wonder the manager behind Tottenham Hotspur's brave – and until Monday, successful – football is so popular.
On Saturday VAR Andy Madley did not have the angle to decide if the ball went out before Joe Willock’s cross, or a clear enough picture to know if Newcastle United goalscorer Anthony Gordon was offside. He could not see a "clear and obvious" reason to penalise Joelinton's two-handed shoved on William Saliba as his header teed up the only goal.
Four minutes of faff for "I’m not sure."
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta's spoilt-child outburst described itself: "a disgrace, embarrassing". His complaints about – well, we are not sure exactly but certainly not Stuart Attwell only booking Kai Havertz for a dangerous tackle – contradicted his "we need to give support and understand mistakes happen" after Spurs v Liverpool in September.
At least Arteta spoke in the heat of defeat. Arsenal's pathetic attack on Professional Game Match Officials Limited, in charge of English refereeing, the next day was even worse.
Their statement mirrored Liverpool’s after that Spurs game. Arsenal used to hold themselves to higher standards.
They and Arteta are broadly right, but his selective outrage and their grandstanding undermined them.
Less than an hour before Gordon's goal Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Gary O'Neil ranted about VAR Chris Kavanagh and Rob Jones agreeing on a penalty when Sheffield United's George Baldock felt Fabio Silva touch his calf.
Again, it was the decisive moment, Oliver Norwood converting the penalty for the Blades' first win this season. Like Joelinton's push, it was highly subjective.
Part of the problem is managers, including Arteta and O'Neil, allow their players to go down under such minimal contact it makes refereeing harder. Officials like Jones are not good enough to deal with that – he gave Hwang Hee-chan a similarly-soft first-half free-kick and Baldock a yellow card owing much to Sasa Kalajdzic's tumble.
VARs are told not to undermine refs on borderline calls. We have managers and statements for that.
Then Monday's Tottenham v Chelsea game had nine VAR decisions in the first half alone.
Referee Michael Oliver called Spurs captain Son Heung-min over to explain why he was sending off Christian Romero and awarding the penalty the game turned on but those who paid to be there? Sod 'em. Wait for the next time Michael Owen grills Howard Webb on the telly.
PGMOL boss Webb wants transparency the global authorities will not allow. It shows utter disdain for those who make football what it is.
Every Premier League ground should have a video screen and referees should use them and microphones to tell fans what is going on.
"I felt like I was standing around for things to happen most of the game," Postecoglou complained.
So were the players, in cold conditions. Never mind extra playing time causing more injuries, constantly stopping and restarting almost certainly contributes. For what?
For a system only supposed to cut out howlers but which over-analyses debatable calls to cause more, not fewer, arguments.
For a system measuring miniscule offsides with 50-frames-per-second cameras reckoned to have a margin for error of up to 38.8cm and sometimes badly hand-drawn lines.
For a system supposed to be about clear and obvious errors which lets VARs spend three or four minutes on them. If it takes half that long it is clearly and obviously not.
For a system which corrects a few more bad decisions than it makes but only a few (as the standard of overworked referees is the main problem) at huge cost whilst undermining officials without whom we cannot play – chiefly the non-league and lower-league officials in a game whose rules have been mutilated to be easier for the tiny percentage of matches with VAR.
Maybe I am biased because my dad was one, then a referee's instructor, or because my mum was a hockey and netball umpire, but Postecoglou's comments felt spot on.
"We've got to accept the referee's decision," he said. "This constant erosion of referees' authority, they're not going to have any authority, we're going to be in control of someone a few miles away watching a TV screen.
"In 26 years (as a manager) I've had plenty of bad (ones), I've had plenty that have fallen in my favour."
VAR is spoiling football, theatrical cheats – including Sheffield United's Baldock but most top-flight players – are too, as are poor refs. But if you only call it out when your team suffers with nothing helpful to say, you forfeit the right to join the debate.